Masks

Cathy Kulich takes off her mask to have a drink of coffee with her long-time friend, Diane Steckmest, on Monday morning, July 20, 2020, outside of Rockford Coffee.

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Slowing the spread of the coronavirus locally will take a “broad-based community effort,” the Gallatin County’s health officer said Tuesday.

Health officer Matt Kelley said there is no “single silver bullet,” and that everyone needs to wear a mask, wash their hands often and stay at home when they feel ill to slow the spread of COVID-19. One person doing that is not enough, he said.

“All those thing have to happen together for us to have an impact, based on where we are right now,” Kelley said.

Kelley’s comments come after the county has seen an increase in its seven-day average of new cases since mid-June. As of Monday, the county reported its daily average of new cases over the last week was 23. In mid-June, that number hovered around three.

On Tuesday, the county’s health department recorded 25 new cases for a cumulative total of 648. One person has died from complications caused by the disease. There are 87 active cases and five people hospitalized because of COVID-19. Statewide, Montana reported 97 new cases on Tuesday and its 40th death, a woman in her 90s at a memory care facility in Yellowstone County.

New cases are located across Gallatin County and are related to travel, community transmission and contacts to known cases, according to a health department news release.

Kelley said he isn’t pinning the increase on a particular group of people. Asked whether tourists are contributing to the increase of cases, he said, “every human being that breaths has a role in transmitting the disease.”

Kelley said state and local governments made the decision to start reopening businesses and other places like Yellowstone National Park, and that there was “really good” reason to do so. However, he said, with that comes risk.

“We made that decision as a state and as a community,” Kelley said.

He said the health department’s focus is getting Montana State University and other area schools reopened safely in the fall.

The health department is “always discussing everything on an ongoing basis,” but Kelley said there is no draft of a rule that would revert the county to closing businesses again. However, he said, people here should take responsibility and pay attention to what’s happening in other states where officials are closing things again.

“But what I’ve learned in this pandemic is never to say never,” Kelley said.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.